Having some meditation practice seems to be part of the current Zeitgeist. And it should be. There is a ton of research that confirms the power of meditation in various areas. It is fantastic for our physical health, improving a lot of processes within our bodies.
Meditation is also well known to be very beneficial for our mental health, boosting our creativity and enhancing a lot of other things. Not to mention the various perks in between that affect our physical and psychological well-being, such as reducing stress.
It can even change our brain for the better, helping with things like depression, one of the most widespread and detrimental illnesses of our time.
Just cultivating a habit of meditating 10 minutes a day can enable you to reap a significant portion of these benefits.
But let’s took a closer look: From the massive list of cognitive and mental benefits, here are the four most potent game-changers that explain why it is worth investing the time to meditate.
Top 4 benefits of a regular meditation practice
Getting closer to the self and one’s emotions
Through regular meditation, we are training our muscle to focus on the present. The conscious pauses from the chatter in our mind encourage reflection processes.
Therefore, our self-awareness increases, which helps us to develop a better understanding of ourself.
At the same time, we experience a calmness that naturally helps us to reduce negative emotions and thus become emotional more stable.
Dan Harris, the creator of my favourite meditation app, ex ABC news anchor and author of the books “10% happier” and “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics”, both #1 New York Times bestsellers, claims meditation makes him at least 10 percent happier. And that is just one of the reasons he got so intrigued with meditation:
“I’ve learned we all have this voice in our head, and it’s an inner narrator. Being a meditator helped me develop a different relationship to this voice.” — Dan Harris
Gain distance and thus the ability to break free from habitual patterns
Meditation changes the dynamics in our brain and therefore helps to gain new perspectives. It enables us to break free from old and even harmful behaviours.
As we are training to interrupt our usual thought patterns and unchain our mind from where it habitually would wander, we open up new space for our imagination to run free. That is why it is not unusual that we experience how our creativity or creative capabilities expand, too.
It happens on its own over time. But it is also possible to use the practice deliberately to break free from unwanted mechanisms and trigger-reactions. For example, if you are a smoker, binge-eater or have an unhealthy social media consumption addiction, interrupting what you are doing and meditating about it in a non-judgemental but curious manner has the power to change your life for good.
This pauses can also be helpful in the case of certain psychological and mental illnesses, although there is still a lot of research to be done in this area.
Develop more resistance against all kinds of stress
“If it weren’t for meditation, I would be able to do everything now just crankier and more stressed. Meditation made me better able to focus in a more effective way.! “ — Dan Harris
Stress is one of the key factors for many mental but also physical diseases. One of the main advantages of regular meditation practice is that it helps to build better skills to manage stress and therefore, to become more resistant to it.
For example, research on PSDB shows that meditation helps:
- balancing the nervous system
- improving brain coherence
- restoring hormonal levels to a state of equilibrium
Being able to manage stress better obviously comes with lots of benefits for our personal life and well-being, but also for our work performance and overall experience of the world.
If we feel less stressed, less overwhelmed, we experience the world in a completely different way. Moreover, our behaviour and ability to take care of ourselves and others increases significantly if our body and mind aren’t frequently in survival mode.
Evolve mechanisms that help cope better with everyday life and extraordinary challenges
Meditating is like exercising, just for the brain. When we enter a meditative state, we put a lot of strain on our mind. We tap into the mental space between chaos and order. And the practice is a fantastic method to bring some clarity into the chatter of our thoughts and silence the inner voice(s).
While meditating, billions of neurons ensure that important information is processed and unimportant information ignored. That is why, through regular practice, meditation helps us to improve information processing.
We learn to focus more and cope better with overloaded situations in everyday life. Thus it strengthens our abilities, and we grow mentally stronger.
Even if people without any experience of meditation concentrate exclusively on their breathing, neuronal activity coordinates optimally across large parts of the cerebral cortex: this, so they claim, is “the neuronal key to mindfulness.”
“In contrast to the state of rest, mindful, focused attention requires that one notices and suppresses the wandering of thoughts and that one constantly focuses on the breath. It is, therefore, a matter of constant supervision and executive control, especially for beginners,” says Stefan Dürschmid. “This could be implemented by brain states that are balanced at an unstable critical point between order and disorder, criticality, and that allows for a flexible focus of attention”.
Game-changer: How these benefits combine to a superpower
Meditating doesn’t change the problems in our life. But the practice helps us to become more mindful of ourselves, helps us to improve our reflection and awareness of what is happening around and within us.
This growing attention and mindfulness helps us to respond to our problems, challenges and just everyday life — rather than just react to it.
It opens up a little extra space between what happens and what we do about it. Therefore it leads to better behaviour, which allows us to act smarter. For example, it takes the edge of our negative responses and affects if something triggers us.
Mindfulness also helps us realize that striving for success is fine — as long as we accept that the outcome is completely outside of our control.
That is why the benefits mentioned above result in probably the most significant mental advantage of meditation: It trains our ability to respond instead of reacting. Improving this skill is a powerful game-changer that enhances our ability to handle ourselves, our lives, relationships, and even how we work and how successful we can be.